Wallingford man burned in fire pit explosion

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A Wallingford man is recovering after a fire pit he was trying to light exploded. He poured gasoline onto it to try to get a fire started.

It happened Sunday afternoon at a house on South Whittlesey Avenue. The man was badly burned, but he’s expected to survive. He made it to the yard of the house next door, where a neighbor helped him put the fire out with a garden hose. When emergency responders arrived he was in a lot of pain.

“He was covered with fuel and had serious burns to 30 to 40 percent of his body,” said Battalion Chief Edward Butkus of the Wallingford Fire Department.

Officials stayed at the house to investigate after the 41-year-old man was taken to the hospital.

“I believe he’s going to have weeks if not months of treatments,” said Butkus. “Burns are some of the worst injuries you can have, so it’s going to be a while for him.”

Fire officials say never to use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to start a fire, since it is volatile and very dangerous. There are other options – like paper – that are safer.

“They do have some grill lighters and things like that, like charcoal fluid, that you can use that is a lot less volatile than gasoline,” said Butkus.

Though lighting a fire in a fire pit is not allowed in some communities, Wallingford residents can use them, as long as the fire is kept under control.

“There’s an ordinance in town about fire pits in town, chimineas and fire pits. They’re legal as long as they don’t become a nuisance,” said Butkus.

The man was taken to Midstate Medical Center and then airlifted by LIFE STAR to Bridgeport Hospital, where he’s being treated in the burn unit.

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